Here, we uncover three new nanoplasticity mechanisms, operating in highly stressed interstitial-rich regions in face-centred-cubic (FCC) metals, which are particularly important in understanding evolution of surface stress and morphology of a FCC metal under low-energy noble-gas ion bombardments. The first mechanism is the configurational motion of self-interstitials in subsonic scattering during ion bombardments. We have derived a stability criterion of self-interstitial scattering during ion embedding, which consistently predicts the possibility of vacancy- and interstitial-rich double-layer formation for various ion bombardments. The second mechanism is the growth by gliding of prismatic dislocation loops (PDLs) in a highly stressed interstitial-rich zone. This mechanism allows certain prismatic dislocations with their Burgers vectors parallel to the surface to grow in subway-glide mode (SGM) during ion bombardment. The SGM growth creates a large population of nanometre-sized prismatic dislocations beneath the surface. The third mechanism is the Burgers vector switching of a PDL that leads to unstable eruption of adatom islands during certain ion bombardments of FCC metals. We have also derived the driving force and kinetics for the growth by gliding of prismatic dislocations in an interstitial-rich environment as well as the criterion for Burgers vector switching, which consistently clarifies previously unexplainable experimental observations.

  • Received January 26, 2012.
  • Accepted April 23, 2012.
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